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May 022011

So what is leaky gut syndrome?  It depends on who you ask.  To some it is a widespread disease that affects billions of people.  To others it is a concept that is being taken into consideration for further study in the field of holistic medicine.  But to many in the mainstream medical field,  it is considered questionable at best,  and pure fiction at worst.  I’ll let you decide.

Leaky gut syndrome is a term used to describe a condition of excessive permeability in the human digestive tract.  We are all aware that essential nutrients are absorbed through our intestinal walls.  But in theory,  someone with leaky gut syndrome would have harmful substances “leak” through the digestive tract into the rest of the body.

How Our Gut Works

Our large and small intestines serve several purposes,  but the 2 most important are to absorb nutrients and expel waste.  Our stomach acid begins the digestive process.  And as food passes along the digestive tract,  nutrients are absorbed as the waste material is passed along,  where it exits the body through a bowel movement.

If this waste material were to be absorbed through the walls of the intestines,  the results would be very dangerous.  Once absorbed,  it would go into the blood stream and be deposited in nearly every part of the body.  Some people cite certain toxins and substances,  but the important thing to remember is that most things in your colon shouldn’t be in your blood stream.

Autoimmune Attack

If these waste materials were deposited in various areas of the body it would cause many problems.  Aside from the sheer poisoning effects,  it would cause a release of antibodies.  Anything that’s not supposed to be there is viewed as an outside invader and our bodies go into attack mode.

Even a healthy human organ transplanted to another person will result in the organ being attacked by the immune system unless the patient is taking immune suppressing drugs.  The body tries to destroy the organ even though it is essential for keeping the patient alive.

This could play a role in autoimmune disorders as well as allergies.  These make the immune system attack something that they’re not supposed to,  this could be a benign food particle or a perfectly healthy organ.  The effect could be very dramatic,  or very subtle.

Dysbiosis and Leaky Gut Syndrome

If you’re asking the question “what is leaky gut syndrome,”  then you should be aware of a condition called intestinal dysbiosis (also called gut dysbiosis).

Intestinal dysbiosis is a term used to describe a state of imbalance in the beneficial gut bacteria.  These beneficial bacteria are there for many reasons.  They aid in the assimilation of nutrients,  they take up space so harmful bugs can’t get a hold,  but they have also been shown to help regulate the immune system.

Candida and Leaky Gut Syndrome

Dysbiosis refers to an overgrowth in harmful organisms,  these can be bacterial,  but the most common one is candida overgrowth.  Candida is present in everybody,  but through certain conditions such as poor diet and antibiotic use,  it can become overgrown.

Antibiotics kill the healthy bacteria that is the natural competition for the candida.  High sugar and high carbohydrate diets provide candida (which is a yeast) the perfect fuel for rapid growth.  Not only can the candida spread to other parts of the body,  but it produces metabolic byproducts called mycotoxins.

Alcohol is the most well known mycotoxin.  And in high doses it is fatal.  You need 2 basic ingredients to brew alcohol-yeast,  and a carbohydrate source.  Does this sound familiar?

Other Possible Causes

Other possible causes of leaky gut syndrome include gluten,  food additives,  and medications such as NSAIDS.

What Should We Do?

I don’t claim to have all of the answers about leaky gut syndrome,  anyone who does may be misleading you.  But what I can suggest is that you take a holistic approach to your digestive health.  You will find that things are more closely connected than you think.  Here are some leaky gut syndrome diet tips.

Eat the right foods.  Eat foods that are high in soluble fiber,  and low in sugar and starch.  Fiber is your colon’s broom,  and sugar is yeast’s best friend.  Eat foods high in probiotic bacteria like yogurt.  Eat anti-inflammatory foods like omega 3 fish,  and nuts and seeds.  A quality probiotic supplement is also essential.

Avoid the wrong foods.  Starchy,  low fiber foods feed yeast and cause constipation.  Avoid artificial foods like man made sweeteners,  preservatives,  and colorings.  These are not meant to be consumed and shouldn’t be in the human body.  Eliminating certain dairy products like milk and hard cheeses may help.

The important thing is to take your health into your own hands.  Nobody is going to do it for you.  The holistic approach to digestive health is more about results than the diagnosis.  But with more research,  maybe we will truly know,  exactly what is leaky gut syndrome?